The distinction between online and offline retail is eroding, at least in consumers' minds, according to a Sterling Commerce survey of US adults conducted in June and July of 2007.
Sterling found that 55% of consumers thought it was important to be able to complete orders in a store, on the store's Website or through a call center, regardless of which channel was used to initially place the order. Nearly two-thirds of consumers also expected to be able to cancel or modify orders through any channel.
"As retailers ramp up for the biggest shopping event of the year—the holidays—their readiness to address today's cross-channel customers' expectations could decide their success," said Jim Bengier, a global retail industry executive at Sterling Commerce, in a statement. "The cross-channel experience has created today's 'spoiled consumer,' and it raises the bar for every retailer."
Checking stock in different ways is part of why consumers like cross-channel retailing. More than one-fifth of shoppers said they check another store in the same retail chain for out-of-stock items. Nearly one-half said they look for items at a competitor's store, 13% order it online instead and about 20% decide not to purchase it at all.
More than three-quarters of consumers said notification of shipping and order fulfillment was very important to their online shopping experiences.
About 54% of consumers think that if a retailer is out of an item it should locate the out-of-stock item at another location and ship it free to the customer.
The e-tailing group, in partnership with J.C. Williams Group and StartSampling, outlined the main attributes of each shopping channel in a July 2006 study.
Shoppers appreciated catalogs for their high-quality photographs and portability. Yet these same shoppers might make their purchase at the retailer's Website after viewing additional product options and checking whether an item was in stock.
Consumers who researched online before purchasing in a store liked to gather product information, compare retailers' prices and locate stores with stock before heading out to inspect the item up close and purchase it.
Learn more about how retail channels work together. Please read eMarketer's US Retail E-Commerce: Entering the Multi-Channel Era report.
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